Friday, February 3, 2017

We always win: Marguerite Hemmings and friends at JACK

Marguerite Hemmings
(photo: Delwin Kamara)

Look and see. Black women make and hold space within dance for everything to come through.

The latest example of this is To Make Ready Again, an evening of performance and discussion offered by Jamaica-born dance artist Marguerite Hemmings, four dance colleagues, singer/musician Solo Woods and drummer Themba Mkhatshwa. It opened at JACK, the small Brooklyn venue famously decorated with crinkly aluminum foil; its run concludes tonight at 8pm.

Inspired by the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates, JACK plans a year-long focus on exploring and expansively defining concepts of reparations in a program entitled Reparations365: From Memory to Movement (February 2017-January 2018). One primary insight already surfaced in community discussions is that monetary value cannot be placed on historic trauma, true justice and healing. It's hard to imagine and calculate in any realistic, satisfying way. Repair and restoration come not from the outside but from within vulnerable yet profoundly resourceful individuals and their communities.

Hemmings's we free multimedia series, of which To Make Ready Again is a part, draws from her knowledge of African diasporan street dance styles, social dancing, hip hop and dancehall, and her work, she says, centers around liberation. In TMRA, she's joined by powerhouse dancers--Courtney J. Cook, Jaimé Dzandu, Katrina Reid and Italy Welton--who whisper and conspire, laugh and vocalize, activating the space in ways both protectively intimate and boldly assertive. A loving circle, a sinuous warrior force, a reservoir of care and uncomplicated joy, they channel and filter even the male vocal energy of hip hop through grounded bodies. Their frequent broad stance roots them into the floor and earth below, freeing up torsos, shoulders and arms for hair-trigger action whenever, wherever necessary. They dance the ancestors through and make their mark on a world they wish to manifest.

Black women like Hemmings--a founding member of the emerging Black women and gender non-conforming collective The Skeleton Architecture--are dancing liberation and reparation. "Bring it down, and spread it all around." And remember, "We always win."

Lighting design: Nikita Maturine
Set design: Zunnania Anderson

To Make Ready Again concludes with a performance this evening at 8pm. For information and tickets, click here.

505 1/2 Waverly, Brooklyn

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